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In the Prologue, mission on Andracia accomplished, Elana asks (herself) question after incomprehensible question in the course of introducing a report to a ""cousin"" considering applying to ""the Academy"" but she's ""been asked to cover the Andracians' and the Imperials' viewpoints as well as her own reactions."" Befuddled, one effaces all but her success in the need to put together the circumstances from (1) the folk-telling wherein stalwart woodcutter's son Georyn hard indeed has it as the Enchantress and the Starwatcher spellbind him to destroy the Dragon threatening Andracia; (2) the trepidations of ethical medic Jarel whose Empire is colonizing Andracia with a powerful bulldozer and no respect for the natives; (3) the breezy, banal confidences of Elana (""Sometimes you just have to learn the hard way, I guess""), expediently the Enchantress, otherwise--with her father (the Starwatcher) and suitor Evrek--agents of the highly advanced Federation. They're out to prevent the still-Youngling Empire from tampering with Andracia's natural progress without disclosing their more-superior existence; and Georyn, his belief in magic used to invest him with their powers, is their secret weapon. The multiplex situation established, the conclusion foregone, the questions forgotten, the reader has only the lugubrious romance between Elana and Georyn to tide her (never him) over long stretches of self-examination in three accents (Jarel: ""Was Kevan right when he called him a starry-eyed idealist?"") until, goal in sight, Elana overturns all--""It was absolutely crazy, of course, for me ever to set off for the Imperials' camp with Georyn."" You have to bear with her (""because in the final extremity he had released them less through terror than through love""), and it's an extra trial in a book that's not easy going to begin with. (Start again and the questions are clear if not compelling.)

Pub Date: March 20th, 1970
ISBN: 0142500372
Publisher: Atheneum